Rabid Habs

Your Move, Mr. Bourque

Habs' Rene Bourque

There were several changes made to the Habs’ roster this season. Seven new faces have been added to the team if we include Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu. So far, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, Manny Malhotra and Dustin Tokarski have made an impact on Montreal’s amazing start to the season. As for the other two, Jiri Sekac and Tom Gilbert, it remains to be seen.

It seems inevitable that every NHL team has underperforming players. For example, ask the Edmonton Oilers if they like what they see from Benoit Pouliot after giving him a $20 million contract over the next five years.

In Montreal, we are still waiting for Rene Bourque and Lars Eller to breakout. We know that Eller will do eventually, but it is far from certain in the case of his linemate. When the power forward was acquired from the Calgary Flames, he already had the reputation of being an inconsistent player. Bourque has done little to change the negative impression we have of him.

The Montreal Canadiens would be an even more dangerous team if Bourque was the player he should be. We saw proof of his potential in last year’s playoffs. During these playoffs, Bourque gave the impression that he was trying to breakout. It looked as if he took a liking into playing an important role on a Habs team heading in the right direction.

Unfortunately, Bourque is back to his old self this season. He may have had one or two great shifts, but his overall performance is still disappointing. Maybe the Habs would have been able to find a buyer during the off-season, but during the regular season, no team wants a player who will pocket another $5 million over the next two years.

The Calgary Flames were lucky to pass him on to Pierre Gauthier – who was trying to get rid of the financial burden posed by Mike Cammalleri’s contract.

If we consider that the second-round pick obtained from Calgary allowed the Canadiens to select Zachary Fucale, I guess that trade wasn’t all bad. However, Calgary had the best of it seeing Cammalleri gave them 50 goals compared to Bourque’s 21 with the bleu, blanc et rouge.

When Bourque spoke with Richard Labbé of La Presse, he had this to say: “I feel like the playoffs are more my kind of game. There are hits, it’s more aggressive. Playoff hockey plays more into my strengths.”

The Habs have played against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins this season. These two opponents certainly don’t lack intensity when they play against the Canadiens. Aren’t these opponents the perfect fit for his game? In these two games, Bourque had 1 assist, a minus-1 rating and 3 shots on goal. In his first seven games this season, he has 10 shots and a minus-7 rating.

You want another excuse?

“I often have to slow down when entering the offensive zone. They (Eller and Sekac) try to skate along the boards. I have to stop at the blue line until they get there. Sometimes, line chemistry can take time.”, said Bourque.

Without making an excuse for Eller, perhaps he would be more productive if Bourque played as he did during the playoffs.

There have always been many questions about Bourque. Why was a guy his size and his speed never drafted? Why did the Chicago Blackhawks give up on him only two years after offering him his first professional contract? Why did Calgary trade him despite his two 27-goal seasons?

If we asked Bourque these questions, I doubt that he would be able to give us answers. “I was given this reputation at some point in my career. I think it’s exaggerated”, said Bourque.

Bourque does not have the talent of Alex Galchenyuk, but if he had the same determination and passion, he would be an impact player for a Habs team needing to better its offensive numbers.

(Editor’s note – The original article was written in french by Bertrand Raymond.)